Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ears, donkeys, a dog and birds

In 1987, on the sunny sidewalks of Fremantle (Western Australia), we often used to run into the mayor John Cattalini, who had the habit of strolling around his territory, soaking up the spirit of his electorate. My son François was amused by a facial detail. The mayor's prominent ears, protruding at right angles to his skull, seemed to flap in the America's Cup breeze as he strolled gaily through his city. "When Cattalini walks through the streets of Fremantle," my son used to say, "the city is being swept by a mobile radar system. The mayor's ears are detecting the pulse of his citizens."

These days, at Gamone, whenever I admire the marvelously mobile ears of my donkeys, I think of the mayor Cattalini in the Antipodes. Why didn't human evolution pick up this trick? With directional ears, we would know what people are saying behind our backs. As for my donkeys, the reason why they're preoccupied by what's going on behind them can be summed up in a single word: Fitzroy.

My smart dog is a cruel and cunning little bastard, who seems to have decided that those dumb donkeys need to know who's the boss at Gamone. And his technique of persuasion consists of darting in at dog speed and nipping gently the donkeys behind their rear legs, a little like leaving a business card. Fitzroy's business is simple, straightforward: "I've arrived at Gamone, I'm the new chief, the Boss, and you donkey folk had better understand it!" With the arrival of the warm weather, the Boss resides nightly in a luxuriant leafy straw-based outdoor residence that looks a little like a giant bird's nest.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to see that, for the second year, little tits (Mésanges) have made Gamone their nesting base.

Birds, still attached to our place, were darting in and out of the tree box this afternoon. Apparently, Gamone is a good address.

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